‘New Age Hasidism’ meets the Academy

studyThe May 23 edition of Religion Dispatches, an online journal of liberal religious news, featured a review of American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society by Shaul Magid. Written by Jewish Studies scholar Martin Kavka, the article –and the book–seriously engages with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and the Jewish Renewal movement he co-founded. The most provocative statement in Kavka’s article is this: “Rather, even if Jewish Americans are not explicitly followers of Schachter-Shalomi, their postethnic lives entail a theology that is functionally equivalent to that of Jewish Renewal.”

To this ALEPH staffer and Renewalnik, that sounds true, and not simply true, but pivotal with respect to shaping the future of American Jewry. While Renewal Judaism currently claims only 2/10ths of 1% of America’s Jewish population, Jews that might be viewed as belonging to the ‘post ethnic’ category described in Kavka’s article comprise a whopping 27 percent of American Jews, and a huge potential audience for Renewal. Read this article and dream of how many Americans we might one day be able to call ‘Holy Friend,’ ‘Holy Brother’ or ‘Holy Sister.’